Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 15th July, 2011
Time : 135 minutes
Director & Co-writer : Zoya Akhtar; Co-Writer : Reema Kagti; Music : Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy
Starring : Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, Kalki Koechlin, Ariadna Cabrol

Clearly no one in India does mid life crisis, coming of age films better than the Akhtars. This film, about three old friends (Abhay, Hrithik & Farhan) meeting in Spain, to celebrate Abhay’s impending marriage to Kalki, connects on several levels.

I liked that each of the three came in with a certain pre-defined character, each very different, in different stages of wealth, yet connecting comfortably as old friends do.

I liked that there was tension between Hrithik & Farhan, over an old incident. Some wounds do take time to heal.

I liked the way Katrina instantly feels some attraction for the tightly wound-up, ‘I want to make money so that I can retire at 40’ Hrithik. It came across very naturally, even though someone else hits upon her first.

I liked the fact that they chose Spain, still off the major Indian tourist road maps and they made sure the country was captured in all of its beautiful glory, with some outstanding camera work.

I liked a few little touches : their funny way of speaking English (‘Buoy’ instead of ‘Boy’ etc), copied from an old school teacher (haven’t we all had those), the silly pranks they play including one that goes wrong, the replacement phone that Hrithik gets & the circumstances in which he gets it (there have been times we would all have loved to do it).

What I didn’t like is that everything got settled very nicely in the end, a bit too pat. I didn’t like that the music, while quite nice in the background, isn’t really hummable, no song sticks in memory, makes you leave the hall singing the tune. I didn’t like the issue that Abhay faces or the way it gets resolved – seemed like nothing a conversation couldn’t have sorted out. And Farhan’s issue was just too filmy, and again seemed to sort itself too easily. I didn’t like that the end got slightly preachy, sentimental, with the title line being repeated possibly once too often.

Abhay stood out for his acting, came across really nice and natural. Katrina looked great and came across well. The others were good.

This is one of the films that’s very easy watching – beautiful scenery, great eye candy (with more focus on the men for a change), nice plot and some intelligent dialogue coupled with funny moments. While this will easily make the list of good movies to come out of our industry, there is something about it that stops it being great, a classic. I have a feeling that its the characters, who while endearing, nice blokes, are not someone you totally identify or fall in love with. And I'm trying hard not to compare to Dil Chahta Hai...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chillar Party

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 8th July, 2011
Time : 130 minutes
Director & Writer : Nitesh Tiwari, Vikas Bahl; Music : Amit Trivedi
Starring : Irrfan Khan, Sanath Menon, Rohan Grover, Naman Jain, Aarav Khanna, Vishesh Tiwari, Chinmai Chandranshuh, Vedant Desai, Sherya Sharma, Divji Handa

Its fun, its feisty, its funny but its just way too long.

Till about the half way mark you’re not even sure what the film is about. Is it about the kids in Chandan Nagar, the gang known as Chillar Party, and their cricket battle with their oversized neighbourhood kids ? Is it about their battle with the new kid who washes the cars, accompanied by his dog ? Is it about each of them and their individual relationships with their parents ? Or is it to do with the minister, who is promising a terror free Mumbai of a different kind ?

The kids are endearing, some of their jokes funny, the parents come across very nicely & naturally. Amongst the funnier episodes are those involving their nicknames (Akram, Panauti & Jhangiya taking the cake), Panauti’s sudden new found love for milk and the slow tapori-isation of the group, thanks to Phatka.

On the con side, it’s a loose script, even the end meanders, the casting of the villain could’ve been better & the ending itself was intentionally made too soppy. It also lacked the wow moments – the ones that will stand out & bear repeat viewing (as in Home Alone or even Alvin & the Chipmunks). Even Amit Trivedi’s music lacked its usual zing, seemed similar to his earlier efforts

It’s a nice effort, kept light and breezy for the most part. Not sure how kids will react to it but I wish it was at least 20 minutes shorter….

Saturday, July 02, 2011

X Men : First Class

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 10th June, 2011 (India)
Time : 132 minutes
Director & Co-Writer : Mathew Vaughn; Co-Writers : Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman; Music : Henry Jackman
Starring : James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Oliver Platt, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult,January Jones, Zoe Kravitz

Even though I haven’t seen or read X Men before, I enjoyed this film, which is noteworthy for its special effects & extremely ‘boys with toys’ storyline. The casting, particularly, Kevin Bacon and James McAvoy helped as well

In the quite eerie start, a young boy when separated from his mother at a concentration camp displays a freakish magnetic power, which is spotted by the camp doctor. The doctor (Bacon) exploits the boy for his own gain, and the boy, when he grows up (Michael Fassbender), becomes a one man army out for vengeance. Along the way, he finds several other people with such special powers and they become collectively known as ‘mutants’ and even become part of a special cell of the US Army. However, they are up against Kevin Bacon who has his own mutant cronies and wants to start World War III.

The other interesting plot involves the relationship between James McAvoy, who is rich, polished and a mutant with mind reading powers, and Michael, who is slowly able to channel his anger to better use. Also, the connect between Jennifer (another mutant and also James’ constant companion since childhood) & Michael has interesting undertones.

It is fascinating as a viewer to watch different, ordinary looking people with these special powers. One can read minds, another can fly and breathe fire. A third can emit fire bombs. Someone can move at a very fast speed while another can change form. Its great viewing as you watch these different folk come together and fight each other.

It reminded me of the time when we were kids and used to harass our parents with unending questions like ‘If Superman had to fight Spiderman, who would win? And Hulk vs Batman ?’. It reminds me of the time when we would all secretly wish we had some special power, that was ours and ours alone. This movie brings back those memories in a flood and manages to marry that with some intelligent dialogue and plot points.

BTW, who do you think would win between Superman and Spiderman ? And Batman ?

Bheja Fry 2

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 17th June, 2011
Time : 130 minutes
Director & Co-Writer : Sagar Bellary; Co-Writer :Sharat Katariya; Music : ishQ Bector, Sneha Khanwalkar, Sagar Desai
Starring : Vinay Pathak, Kay Kay Menon, Suresh Menon, Minissha Lamba, Amol Gupte

I find it difficult to laugh at the sight of someone (Vinay Pathak) getting humiliated or some habits of his (speaking in chaste Hindi, being over helpful etc) being made fun of. Neither did I feel any sympathy for the main tormentor, Kay Kay, who is a womanizer, fraud and mean-hearted to boot. Story wise, as well, I found this version inferior to the first and slightly far fetched.

Vinay Pathak is an Income Tax sleuth who doesn’t seem to have to work too hard and spends his time auditioning for singing shows and game shows. He wins one and is invited to a cruise. Kay Kay Menon, is a businessman doing dodgy things, is under investigation and also a friend of the show organizer, and decides to come for the cruise. He and Vinay don’t get along from moment one, especially as Minissha Lamba, the cute game show executive whom Kay Kay has the hots for, has eyes only for the demure Vinay. As fate would have it, one of Kay Kays schemes to get rid of Vinay backfires and both he and Vinay end up being stranded on an island for some time.

Sounds a bit stretched ? It is. Especially with most other characters hardly getting a look see and therefore seeming like caricatures, like Amol Gupte, who comes across as a buffoon or Kay Kays wife who comes across as cold or Suresh, Vinay’s colleague, who seems cartoonish, or even Kay Kays assistant who doesn’t take long to change colours.

On the positive side, something does keep happening throughout, the acting is solid from the lead pair, both male and female, and there are a few (very few) good moments of fun.

There are few redeeming features otherwise in the film and am hoping rumours of a third are unfounded

Delhi Belly

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 1st July, 2011
Time : 102 minutes
Director : Abhinay Deo; Writer : Akshat Verma; Music : Ram Sampath
Starring : Imran Khan, Vir Das, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Shenaz Treasurywala, Poorna Jagannathan, Vijay Raaz

“Once, from a man who's crotch was itchy,
Kunaal had a masala chicken tandoori.
His rumblings abdominal,
then became truly phenomenal,
And smelly to the highest degree !"

Irreverent, spicy, fast paced and very, very funny

Imran, Kunaal and Vir are room mates. They try not to do the domestic chores for which its their turn. Water scarcity, filth and unwashed clothes & bodies abound in their abode. They’re quite different to each other but seem to get along quite well.

Imran is one of the serious types, into good, investigative journalism and a conscientious worker as proven by the different situations in which he takes a work phone call. His new, attractive colleague (Poorna) feels he should loosen up and an untimely erection suggests she may be right. His girlfriend (Shenaz), one of the self-obsessed, vacuous types, feels they should get married soon and her parents gift him a new car which is described as “what comes out when a donkey fucks a cycle rickshaw” by the irrepressible Kunaal .

“Did they shave your head before they tried to hang you ?”

Kunaal, a photo-journalist, works with Imran & is also into blackmail, eating out and is the reason behind the films title. Not averse to the simpler pleasures of life, he is also the reason why Vir can never drink orange juice again.

“Can you make the banana a little more sad ? By 7%”

Vir, a cartoonist, is happily going out with his girlfriend, Ritu, or so he thinks. His song of angst, ‘Jaa Chudail’ is a classic. He’s not happy at work, his voice undergoes a major change towards the end of the film but soon that’s going to be the least of his worries

The movie itself revolves around a package delivery which is treated extremely casually by Shenaz and the three room mates. In the end, a wrong one gets delivered, and the very angry recipient, Vijay Raaz, lets the four of them feel his wrath. Subplots involving a blackmail gone wrong and a kathak dancer only add to the fun and mayhem.

“And because I’m a 21st century man, I too have given your daughter oral pleasure”

A fantastic background score, superb dialogue, a zany sense of urban, tongue in cheek humour ensure that the viewing experience is great. The decision to run it without an interval deserves applause as it ensures the pace never flags. I liked the fact that screen time was shared quite equally between the room mates and just because he is the hero, Imran didn’t get treated differently.

I felt Aamir’s much talked about item number was unnecessary, didn’t work for me. The film is clearly inspired by the Guy Ritchie school of film-making (and at least one scene is a direct lift from one of his).

"Your ass is like a solar eclipse”

In a country where mindless films are also called comedies, this is an example of what the genre could and should really be about. Several laugh out loud moments are guaranteed, this one is going to bear repeated viewing !